Fr. Tony Ritter grew up in O’Fallon with “wonderful parents” and one sister. He is an alum of Fort Zumwalt North High School and entered the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary to become a priest right after graduation. He spent seven years in the seminary and was ordained as a Catholic priest in 2019 through the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He is in his third year of the priesthood and is the associate pastor of St. Francis Borgia Parish in Washington.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be … As a first grader, I had two future goals: to be a saint and to drink beer. Thankfully those aren’t mutually exclusive.
What would you rather be doing right now? I would rather be playing a board game with friends (and winning . . .).
Shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone that … I’m a very competitive person: in board games, in sports, in life. In seminary, I was known for frequently drawing blood when playing sports.
Other than your wedding day and/or the birth of your children, what was your proudest moment? Well, I haven’t done either of those things, but I have never been prouder than the morning of Aug. 15, 2015, when my sister entered a monastery in California and became a religious sister.
It really stinks when … I can’t fix problems: either other people’s or my own..
What word in the dictionary would your face be next to? Giggle: “v. to laugh lightly in a nervous, affected, or silly manner.” There are so many things that I find giggle-worthy!
I always laugh … I’m always laughing when I’m with pre-school aged kids. Their perspective of the world is always comical and delightfully refreshing.
Invite any three people, living or dead, to dinner. Who are they? What would you serve? I would love to have dinner with C.S. Lewis, Peter Kreeft and Trent Horn. I feel like these three authors could solve half of the world’s problems together. For dinner, I would order carry out from Old Dutch – there’s no way my deficient cooking abilities would be sufficient.
At the end of a really long day at work, I like to … go on a long walk on the riverfront path – hopefully, before the sun sets.
People who knew me in high school thought I was … a smart, religious guy who was pretty sheltered and a little naïve. They were pretty spot on.
My most unforgettable brush with greatness was … I was helping at the New Cathedral in St. Louis for Phyllis Schlafly’s funeral, and I got to hold the door for the then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his wife, Melania.
I would drop all my plans tonight if I had the chance to … go to a showing of Les Misérables at the Muny or the Fox.
If someone gave me a million dollars, there is still no way I would … retire. I love being a parish priest.
America should be more concerned about … Our sense of community. Too often we prioritize rugged individualism or our own clique over genuine love for others.
I’m OK if there’s ever a national shortage of … dairy products. I’m allergic to them!
When I’m in a bookstore, I always go to this section first … The audiobook section. I love books on tape.
What is the most useful piece of advice you have ever received? The rector of my seminary, Fr. James Mason, offered this advice: Do not despair when you make a mistake. Rather, say this prayer, “Lord, make up for where I lack.” That simple prayer has gotten me through so much anxiety in life.
When I’m cruising down the road, I’m likely listening to … A whole gamut of things: podcasts, talk radio, classical music, jazz, classic rock and pop. However, (and this is probably controversial) you’ll never find me jamming out to country or rap!
I always get sentimental when … I think about how loved I am: by God, family, friends and my parish.
The older I get, the more I realize … I need to stretch before and after exercising.
If I had one “do-over” I would … I would convince my parents to move to Washington, Missouri, in 1998 when we were moving as a family. I love living here.
My favorite item of clothing is … warm jackets – I despise the cold.
If I’ve learned anything at all … I must be careful with what I say. In fifth grade, I told a substitute teacher that I liked him more than our normal teacher. The next day, a classmate told what I had said to our normal teacher, and she started crying. It was a pretty rough day of school ... Lesson learned.
What do you wish Washington or Franklin County had to offer? A little more time for family and faith. It can be easy to get swept up in all of the events and activities that happen around town. Sometimes I need to remind myself to slow down.
Who is your personal hero or mentor? I look up to many priests who have had a profound effect on my life. However, the person who has influenced me the most is my sister, Sr. Mary Francis. She’s been with me through everything – and she still loves me.
A historical figure I’d like to meet is: St. Joseph. He never speaks in the Bible, and I would love to know what it would have been like to be Jesus’ foster father.
In my opinion there is no more beautiful place on Earth than … the Sea of Galilee in Israel – incredibly beautiful and historically so significant.
I’ll watch the movie anytime it is on television … “The Princess Bride.”
What’s your superpower? Genuinely caring for other people and striving to always be a good active listener.
If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask? How much am I loved? I can easily doubt this, and I know the answer would blow my mind.